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All credit to the five people who said no

All credit to the five people who said no

The tragic death of a Christchurch schoolboy after an alcohol binge with his mates is a warning to all adults to think about what they are doing before they supply under 18 year olds drink, says the Alcohol Advisory Council.

It was reported in the media yesterday that the schoolboy had acquired a bottle of vodka before meeting up with a group of friends. Another of the youths had then stood outside a liquor store asking people to buy him drink. The boy concerned had asked five adults first before he persuaded the sixth, a woman, to buy him bourbon.

ALAC Deputy Chief Executive Paula Snowden says some of the facts are still emerging but alcohol has clearly played a role here. “The point is an adult has illegally and dangerously provided alcohol to a young person and this looks to have contributed to this tragedy.”

She said the people who refused to buy alcohol for the boy made the right decision. “All credit to the people who have the sense to say no when kids ask them for alcohol. Let’s focus on those who make the wrong choice and break the law. People who supply young people with alcohol do them no favours.” Under the law it is an offence to purchase liquor with the intention of supplying to a minor. It does not apply to any child of whom that person is a parent or guardian.

Parents, older friends and siblings are the people most likely to supply alcohol to those under 18, sometimes in dangerously large amounts, Ms Snowden says. “However, there is anecdotal evidence that there is a problem with adults being approached by young people outside licensed premises and bottle stores and being asked to buy alcohol for them. Some licensees themselves have told us they are worried about this and have indicated that it is an issue of concern for them.”

Ms Snowden says ALAC has recently been promoting a Think Before You Supply Under 18s Drink campaign in different areas around New Zealand. The campaign has a number of aims. It intends to raise awareness of the consequences of breaking the law. It is also for adults to look at the dangers of supplying alcohol to young people.

Adults need to take a good hard look at their own behaviour. “What is the impact of adults sending 14 and 15 year olds off to unsupervised parties with enough money for a bottle of vodka, or them supplying the bottle themselves?”

She says that the community needs to be concerned about the effects of alcohol on its young people. “Young people drinking large quantities of alcohol are at risk of enormous harm – to themselves and to others. They are more at risk of being involved in car accidents, assaults, or receiving other injuries associated with alcohol use than any other group in society.”

With the end of the school year and the Christmas party season coming up, ALAC is urging adults to think before they supply under 18s drink. Ms Snowden says. “Just don’t do it.”

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